Friday, July 24, 2009

Color My World: Mood Indigo

Charles Mingus: Mood Indigo


Let's take a moment to appreciate one of the least renown colors of the rainbow. It's not a primary color, or even a secondary one, but it's one we couldn't live a full life without. I'm talking about indigo, that mysterious lady of the night who bridges the gap between blue and violet.

This song's composer Duke Ellington knew the power of indigo, a color even "bluer" than blue itself. The bottom lines is that you ain't been blue until you've had that mood indigo. It's not a pushy color, but it can bring you down just the same, right down to your shoes...

For a standout vocal version, try Frank Sinatra's stellar rendition on Wee Small Hours. (When you've loved and lost like Frank has, you know a little bit about the blues, and indigo moods.)

Color My World: Primary Colors Edition

Suzanne Vega: Small Blue Thing


Small. Blue. Thing. Three short words which combine to form an intricate puzzle. There is a sense here of small, as in insignificant. Blue here may represent sad. Or, taken together, this small blue thing may be something rare and precious. All of this is in Suzanne Vega’s lyric, for the listener to puzzle out. The solution to the puzzle changes every time I listen. And that makes this one of Vega’s best songs.

Bruce Cockburn: Red Brother Red Sister


Bruce Cockburn is a Canadian artist who made several albums there before anyone in the United States ever heard of him. So, we had a lot of lost time to make up for. Here, Cockburn addresses the topic of prejudice against Native Americans. We Americans tend to shunt this subject aside; we have “more important things to worry about”, seems to be the attitude. But, judging by the number of Canadian artists I have heard address the subject, the subject is much closer to the surface there. I would like to hear from our Canadian readers on this. Cockburn has delivered some strident political messages in some of his songs, but here he keeps it low key, and the song is better for it.

October Project: Sunday Morning, Yellow Sky


The original lineup of October Project only lasted for two albums. Then, Mary Fahl, whose lead vocals were so much a part of there sound, went solo and the group broke up. More recently, I heard that they got back together without Fahl, but I regard that as a different group using the name. The original lineup is heard here, with Fahl’s soaring alto at the front.

Sunday Morning, Yellow Sky depicts a man in desperate straits. His redemption lies in the dream of a lover, or perhaps the blessing of an angel as he sleeps. This song is also open to multiple interpretations. But the importance of dreams is clear. The song closes with a quote from Alice In Wonderland, as Alice falls down the rabbit hole. We the listeners know what dreams await her, but she does not.

Color My World : Little Red Shoes

Loretta lynn : Little Red Shoes


I asked my friends at Acclaimedmusic forum for suggestions, and they came up with very intersting proposals. Some of them were not my cup of tea, but I really like this Loretta Lynn monologue backed by a Jack White arrangement. The story is, in the old-school country tradition, sentimental almost to the extreme, but it works. The Lynn-White pair may seem odd, but in the end the result makes sense. Many thanks to BillAdama for picking this song.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Color My World: Red (Elegy)

From Wikipedia:

The term "elegy" originally denoted a type of poetic meter (elegiac meter). It commonly describes a poem of mourning, from the Greek elegeia (ἐλεγεία) derived from elegos (ἔλεγος)—a reflection on the death of someone or on a sorrow generally. As such, it may be classified as a form of lyric poetry. An elegy can also reflect on something that seems strange or mysterious. Additionally, "elegy" (sometimes spelled elégie) may denote a type of musical work, usually of a sad or somber nature. The term "elegy" is not to be confused with "eulogy."

Some of you know I've been in the Atlanta area (away from my Florida home) caring for my aging/ailing mother for the last two months - sadly, she passed away early Sunday morning, July 19...

It was the seventh anniversary of the death of Dave Carter - this song (originally released on his now out-of-print 1995 solo album Snake Handlin' Man and re-released posthumously on Seven is the Number) seems synchronistically appropriate...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Color My World: Orange

In 1994, the bassless holy trinity of Jon Spencer, Russell Simins and Judah Bauer colored my world with an exciting musical statement called Orange. Good to find it still sounds remarkably fresh today. "I see a worm up on a platform... I got the blues... can I scream?" By all means, Jon.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Color My World : Pale Blue Eyes

The Velvet Underground : Pale Blue Eyes


I have a special love for the third VU album, even if critics tend to praise the first two. Of course, Cale is gone but these more conventional pop songs are really sweet. After 1969 VU really sounds like the first Lou Reed solo albums, and Lou Reed IMO is one of the major American songwriters. Amazing guitar work.

Color My World: The Court of the Crimson King

King Crimson: The Court of the Crimson King


In the early seventies, AM radio was the home of the hits. There were forty songs, with ten emphasized, and you would hear them over and over in the course of the day. To escape this, my brothers and I listened to FM radio. This was where new music lived. And in the early seventies, new music meant art-rock. Nowadays, the label progressive rock is more often used, but art-rock was what we called it then.

In art-rock, the extended jams of sixties music had given way to longer compositions. Songs would shift rhythms mid-song, and unusual time signatures were often used. The arrangements emphasized a big sound. The worst results of this have aged poorly, and sound pompous and overblown to a modern listener. But the best of art-rock still sounds amazing today. And King Crimson were right at the top, along with Yes, Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and only a few others.

The Court of the Crimson King tells of a tournament and pageant at a medieval castle. The imagery is rich and multicolored, fittingly for our theme. The music matches the grandeur of the described events. There is no story, just a rich parade of images and a powerful evocation of mood.